Disaster Shadows Chinese Mining Ventures in Southeast Asia – by Tongam Panggabean and Dustin Roasa (The Diplomat – January 28, 2021)


Two years ago this week, the global mining industry felt the ground crumble beneath its feet. At the decommissioned Córrego do Feijão iron ore mine in Brazil, a tailings dam suddenly collapsed, unleashing a wall of toxic sludge that roared through the serene valleys around the city of Brumadinho.

Security cameras captured the disaster in stomach-churning detail, including the horrifying moment when the earthen dam burst. An estimated 270 people died, many buried alive by the sludge.

The area’s rivers and ecosystems are likely to be polluted for generations. The former CEO of Vale, which owns the mine, faces homicide charges in a Brazilian court.

The risks of tailings ponds – where toxic waste from mines is stored behind large dams – had been laid bare.

The psychological shockwaves of the Córrego do Feijão collapse reached China, home to approximately 8,000 tailings facilities, the most in the world. In March of last year, the Chinese government announced new safety guidelines meant to stave off a similar disaster. They establish buffer zones with residential areas and major rivers and cap the height and number of dams permissible.

For the rest of this article: https://thediplomat.com/2021/01/disaster-shadows-chinese-mining-ventures-in-southeast-asia/